Borderlands Theater To Present WEST SIDE STORIES, Celebrating Tucson's West Side Heritage And Cultural Pride

The theatrical festival takes place Thursdays- Sundays April 20th-30th, 2023 Pre-show Picnic and Activities start at 6:00pm.

Review: BEN BUTLER At Don Bluth Front Row Theatre

Borderlands Theater will present West Side Stories, written by Veronica Weatherbie with contributions by Patricia Preciado Martin, Milta Ortiz, Silviana Wood and Marc David Pinate, edited by Milta Ortiz and directed by Jonathan Heras and Marc David Pinate. The theatrical festival takes place Thursdays- Sundays April 20th-30th, 2023 Pre-show Picnic and Activities start at 6:00pm. The Main Stage Show starts at 7:45pm at Bonita Park, 20 N. Bonita Avenue.


West Side Stories offers audiences, a chance to eat alfresco with loved ones, check out an interactive game show, engage in a heritage talk circle, walk through an augmented reality installation and experience a local story told through shadow box installations. All before the play begins!

The heritage based theatrical festival is fun for all ages! It's meant to be shared with family and friends. In an effort to make it accessible it's a choose what you pay event! Online reservations are encouraged: Click Here. First come first serve. Free parking available in Bonita Ave lots. Accessible by bus lines 21 & 22.

Bring your own chairs, blankets, ice chests, food... anything you'd bring to a park! West Side Stories is a no alcohol event.


Picnic With Family and Friends

The festival celebrates Westside pride and invites audiences to make a special family recipe to enjoy with family and friends. If you don't have one, check our website for a Sonorense staple, Chile con Carne Colorada. If you don't have time to cook, we suggest picking up dinner to go from a legacy West Side restaurant like Pat's, Tania's, St. Mary's, or Mariscos Chihuahua! Or show up and buy dinner from local food trucks.

Garden of Gethsemane Shadow Box Installation

Inspired by shadow box art, digital animations and shadow theatre techniques tell the story of Felix Lucero and a battlefield promise he made that led him to carve the statues that adorn the long-standing Garden of Gethsemane located on the banks of the Santa Cruz, just below the Congress Street Bridge.

Augmented Reality Experience

(co-presented with Arizona State Museum) Use your smartphone to view photo galleries depicting the people and places of the westside from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Holograms of people from the past tell stories of life on the Westside.

Community Land Trust Game Show

(co-presented with Pima County Community Land Trust and UA Theatre students)

A humorous , interactive game show where contestants from the audience undertake challenges and test their knowledge to keep their neighborhood from getting gentrified. A fun way to learn how community land trusts work to keep a stock of affordable housing in neighborhoods.

Heritage Talk Circles

Lifelong westside elders share their experiences living, working, and organizing in the Westside. Inspired by indigenous storytelling traditions, the talk circle is a place for all to listen, ask questions, reminisce, and share. We are honored to present the following heritage speakers:

Thursday, April 20

Armando Rodriguez will discuss the 1-C Americanization program and growing up in Menlo Park.

Friday, April 21

Patsy Lee remembers her father's store, Alan's Market, in Barrio Hollywood.

Sunday, April 23

Margo Cowan shares stories of community organizing on the Westside as director of the

Manzo Area Council

Friday, April 28

Barbara Lewis and her brother George Hollins share African American perspectives of the Westside.

Sunday, April 30

Sixto Molina remembers his time in the Tucson Police Department and his assignment to the Adam One Community Policing Project


The Barrio Stories Project was born out of an impulse to honor and celebrate Tucson's historic Mexican American Barrios. West Side Stories is deeply embedded in the Westside and is driven by professional artists working alongside current and former residents of the area. Borderlands artists formed a steering committee of Westside residents which met monthly to create a theatrical experience authentic to the Westside.

At the heart of the theatrical festival is a desire to share some of the rich Westside history from the voice of its residents. Residents were interviewed to create the play and installations that make up the festival. A reoccuring theme in the oral histories reflected how barrio residents supported each other to survive and build community, whether it was to erect an adobe home, keeping an eye on each other's children, or the credit Chinese grocers generously offered.

Westside Stories is a collaborative placemaking effort between residents,, artists, local government and educational and community service organizations.Project partners include City of Tucson Parks and Recreation who has advised Borderlands Theater on the use of Bonita Park and will complete significant upgrades to the Garden of Gethsemane; Tucson City Council Ward 1, who provided advice and is a festival sponsor; Pima County Community Land Trust providing technical expertise and working with UA students to create the Community Land Trust game show; and the Arizona State Museum who along with the UA Center for Digital Humanities created an augmented reality experience based on the archival photo research Borderlands Theater conducted.

Quote From Mayor Regina Romero

"Borderlands Theater celebrates the history and heritage of our historic barrios and Mexican American culture. They tell the real stories of the people and the places that made Tucson so vibrant and diverse. Remembering and celebrating our heritage is important. Sharing our stories together is powerful. I invite everyone to join me in supporting Borderlands."


VERONICA WEATHERBIE born and raised in Nogales, is an actor and writer. She was brought on to the Barrio Stories Nogales project in early 2020 as a Productions Assistant before the project took a 2 year hiatus. In that time she developed several "bridge" events, connecting the space between Nogales and Tucson artists and bridging the time between the original Barrio Stories event dates and final production in June of 2022. She attributes her time and work with Borderlands Theater on Barrio Stories Nogales to the enrichment and growth of her relationship with her hometown and community.

Her work with West Side Stories included conducting oral history interviews, collecting historical photographs, and organizing with the steering committee. Veronica is the primary playwright of Westside Stories' mainstage play. She expresses deepest gratitude to all the West-Siders for opening their homes and their hearts to her, allowing for the chronicling of their lives.

Milta Ortiz an award-winning playwright was born in El Salvador and raised in the Bay Area, she now calls Tucson home. She's developing Anita, a musical in collaboration with composer Quetzal Guerrero at Borderlands Theater. Current developmental workshop partners include University of Arizona and Childsplay. An excerpt of Anita was showcased at 4xLatine by the Latine Musical Theatre Lab. Milta was a 2020-21 Projecting All Voices Mellon fellow at Arizona State University, where she incubated Anita and solo play What Are You? In Fall 2022, she directed Ballet & Bagels, a TYA play she wrote with her students at Pima Community College in Spring 2022. Her play, Pilar and Paloma was part of Launchpad's 2021 BIPOC Reading Series Festival. Judge Torres, commissioned and produced by Milagro Theatre Group, toured nationally to universities (2019-2020). Milta is Associate Artistic Director at Borderlands Theater, where a few of her plays, including Sanctuary (2018) and Más (2015) have world premiered. Borderlands' production of Más toured Arizona universities. Más was produced at Su Teatro, Ubuntu Theatre Project/Laney College, and San Diego State University. She earned an MFA from Northwestern University, and a BA from San Francisco State University. She is proud to serve on the National New Play Network board of directors and as commissioner for the Tucson Convention Center.

JONATHAN HERAS is an actor and singer from Yuma, Arizona and now a Tucson performing artist and member of the Borderlands Theater Ensemble. He has worked with various local theaters including Live Theatre Workshop, Stories That Soar, Gaslight Theater, and many more. He develops and writes content with a group of artists called Digital Desmadre to create content and raise awareness through social media platforms. He has worked with youth as a theater teaching artist for over 10 years and is currently the musical director at Sal Pointe Catholic High School.

MARD DAVID PINATE is an indigenous Xicano making theatre in the Sonoran Desert region, his ancestral homelands. He has worked with nationally recognized companies such as Magic Theatre, Campo Santo, El Teatro Campesino, ShadowLight Productions, Steppenwolf, Cleveland Public, Milagro Theatre and the Kennedy Center for the Arts. The producing artistic director of Borderlands Theater, his passion for creative placemaking and place-keeping has led to developing and directing ethnographic projects focused on Southern Arizona narratives including: Más, (with playwright Milta Ortiz) a docudrama about the struggle to save the TUSD Mexican American Studies program; Sanctuary, (also with playwright, Milta Ortiz) the story of the Tucson origins of the Sanctuary Movement; Barrio Stories, large scale, site-specific heritage festivals centering the history and heritage of Tucson's Mexican-American barrios; and Sonoran Shadows, a shadow theatre adaptation of the stories of Patricia Preciado Martin. His work has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Doris Duke Foundation, National New Play Network, The Mellon Foundation, and Theatre Communications Group. His play writing credits include numerous street theatre actos, Fear of a Brown Planet with Paul Flores and Amalia Ortiz, 2012: Time of No Time (commissioned by La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, CA) and most recently, Antigone at the Border, a post-colonial adaptation of the Greek classic for which he received the New England Foundation for the Arts National Touring Project award to develop. He's been a founding member of performance collectives including Chicano Messengers of Spoken Word, Grito Serpentino, and the Hybrid Performance Experiment (the HyPE). Marc holds an MFA in Directing from the Theatre School at DePaul University and teaches theater at Pima Community College and creative placemaking at the University of Arizona.

Adam Cooper-TERÁN (ACT) is a native of Tucson, Arizona, born from a mixed heritage of Mexican, Yaqui, and Jewish roots. Known for their collaborations among various performance troupes, theater companies, musicians, dancers, educators, and activists, Adam's work has featured across the globe as large-scale media projections, musical interventions, and installations of digital storytelling.


The Studio to Present NEW SUMMER SHORTS Festival in June

The NEW SUMMER SHORTS Festival runs for 2 weeks from June 8 through June 18, Thursday through Friday nights at 7:30 pm with Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.

Local Stars Align To Benefit Theatre Artists Studio

Four of Phoenix's own notable musical stars will come back Together Again in a benefit concert for the Theatre Artists Studio on June 24th. Headed by Matt Rollings, (Phoenix Country Day School, Young Sounds, Mr. Luckys, Berklee College of Music and Nashville) Matt is a Grammy award winning musician, composer, and producer whose iconic piano can be heard on literally thousands of albums, perhaps most notably Lyle Lovett.

Adult Dance Camp Comes to The Phoenix Theatre Company

Summer camp is traditionally something for kids, but at The Phoenix Theatre Company, adults are invited to a special kind of summer experience: Summer of Dance. It’s eight weeks of dance classes for people at all skill levels, ages 15 to 80 years old. Professional choreographers teach a variety of classes four nights a week from June 5 through July 27. This is the program’s 15th year in the Valley.

Review: BEN BUTLER At Don Bluth Front Row Theatre

Richard Strand's BEN BUTLER highlights a seminal moment in the march to emancipation. Now on stage at Don Bluth Front Row Theater in Scottsdale AZ through July 8th, the play, directed by Lee Cooley and featuring an outstanding cast, is a compelling profile of courage.


#repshow# in[i]# Birth of a MURDERER
Desert Stages (5/19-6/10)
#repshow# in[i]# 48LIVE: JenziTaughtMe
Tempe Center for the Arts (6/08-6/08)
#repshow# in[i]# Raymonda
Madison Center for the Arts (6/03-6/04)
#repshow# in[i]# Damn Yankees
Don Bluth Front Row Theatre (9/21-10/28)
#repshow# in[i]# Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Arizona Broadway Theatre (5/05-6/04)
#repshow# in[i]# It's a Wonderful Life
Don Bluth Front Row Theatre (11/16-12/30)
#repshow# in[i]# remove
remove (4/25-2/07)
#repshow# in[i]# Disaster!
Arizona Broadway Theatre (8/18-9/10)
#repshow# in[i]# 48LIVE: Cisco and the Racecars
Tempe Center for the Arts (6/22-6/22)
#repshow# in[i]# The Wizard of Oz
Arizona Broadway Theatre (6/16-7/16)

Recommended For You